Monday, May 21, 2012

Reclaim your jeans!

Whilst spending an hour (or three) browsing the web, I found this fascinating website on craftgawker.  I want to share this with you, so when you've finished here, pop over to and have a look at the original.

I've had this particular pair of jeans for many, many years, and every summer they come out again - they are beautifully soft after repeated washings, faded to a lovely pale blue, and quite flared with boho-style unfinished hems.  Sadly, they have aged better than I have, so when I saw how to reclaim 1" - 2" on the waistband, I was hooked.

Basically, you just remove the too-tight original waistband, and replace it with a folded fabric tie-belt.

I had saved an old king-sized duvet cover from one of my many colour scheme changes, so I just cut a length off one of the long sides.  This craftily included the side seam which acted as the top edge, saving me a bit of sewing (you could cut a wider piece of fabric and just fold it, that will work too).

I'm delighted with how this turned out - and it only took about 45 minutes to do from start to finish.  So thanks to MeiJo's Joy, I  have reclaimed a pair of jeans, just in time for summer.

Monday, May 14, 2012


After much hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth, I gave up trying to be clever with my hat-making, and spent an hour yesterday evening sewing the plastic hair band to the inside of the hat.

And it works!  Thank goodness the hat itself is straw - I'm not sure any other material would have been so forgiving.  Luckily I found some thread in exactly the right shade of red, so any wayward stitches are invisible to the naked eye.

I love it!  I'm pleased with the rakish angle, the colours, and of course, the fact that it cost less than £6.00 to make.  Philip Treacy, eat your heart out .............

Monday, May 7, 2012

I love it when a plan comes together!

For many, many months I have been intending to create a website.  Nothing fancy, you understand, just an additional promotional tool to share my creations with the world, and maybe sell a couple of them to discerning purveyors of hand-crafted uniquery (is that a word, even?).

So off I go, trawling the depths of the internet, trying to find a cheap (free?) website builder that I can actually understand.  Now I'm not saying: "love me, love me, I'm thick", but - why the flaming heck is this so difficult?  Am I really that dense?  I thought I was fairly computer savvy but clearly not!

My first attempt met with abject failure.  It isn't often I'm reduced to a gibbering wreck by a piece of software, but this was one of those times.  I don't usually give up without a fight, but resistance was futile.  I simply could not get my brain wrapped round what I needed to do to get what I wanted.  Time to stomp off in a huff, muttering ladylike expletives, vowing never to try doing anything remotely 21st century again.

Until I found

Oh, Weebly, I love you. You have restored my mood to that of calm, capable, unflappable, swift of finger and appraising of eye.  I am inserting images, creating pages, typing copy and building a website worthy of a Crafty Little Owl.  Deep sigh of contentment.

I shall let you know when 'Crafty Little Owls - The Website' goes live.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I thought this would be so easy .......!

Hmmm.  This hat-making lark is a bit trickier than I thought.  The flowers are well stuck on in a pleasing arrangement, and that's about as far as I have got.

I'm having trouble sticking the actual hat to the plastic headband - an enthusiastic attempt to glue it on met with mild disaster.  Unfortunately the glue I used promptly melted the plastic on the headband, leaving gooey smears on the inside of the hat, and refusing to stick at all!  Double sided tape, I hear you say.  Nope, no good either, although it does stick remarkably well to hair, as I found to my cost.

Mr Owls has been his usual proactive self, suggesting Araldite, staples, gaffer tape, rivets or nuts and bolts.  I'm not sure he's taking this seriously ........

I think the trusty needle and thread are going to be the way to go, as long as I keep Alan Rickman/Sheriff of Nottingham in mind, and "keep the stitches small".

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Summer Wedding

My best friend is getting married in August, so we've spent some girly time together doing the dress/hat/shoes thing in Bristol.

Her wedding dress is sorted - it's gorgeous and suits her beautifully, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the photos (obviously).  So - what am I going to wear?

You have probably already sussed that I am reluctant to spend a lot of money on things that can't be used more than once.  When we were trying on accessories (and having a good giggle at the same time), I was amazed at the prices being charged for items that frankly, I'd struggle to justify buying.  Example - cream and navy straw hat = £100.  Small red fascinator = £30.  Plain mid-heel court shoes = £30.  Er, no.

Luckily for me, I have a dress that I bought for a friend's wedding reception last year, and it still fits!  It's a fitted shift dress in a fairly firm soft-sheen satin, in a floral red, gold and navy pattern.  I also bought a red patent handbag.  The shoes I wore then have been jettisoned purely because I couldn't keep the damn things on (mules from Nine West - perfect if you don't actually need to move).  I liked wearing red shoes, so that's the first thing I went looking for.

Hurrah for charity shops!  I found a brand new pair of red patent peep-toe court shoes with a wedge heel in a nearby Scope shop (£4) which are very comfy, flattering, and should be OK for walking, standing, dancing, etc.  Now for the hat.  I'm not exactly a wild social butterfly, so proper lady hats don't feature largely in my wardrobe - do they in yours?  But this is my best friend's wedding.  I must have a hat.

Remember those fascinators for £30?  Well, when you look at them, there isn't really that much to them, is there?  So I have gathered together a selection of bits, with the intention of creating my own unique headgear and not having a hissy fit if I stand on it, sit on it, lose it, break it or get it soaking wet - we are talking August in England, don't forget.

OK.  The red straw hat is a child's sunhat from another charity shop (£1.50).  It had a sad, flattened flower on the front (you can see where I cut it away from the crown at the bottom of the picture).

The flowers are all hair decorations from our local pound shop, as are the three plastic hairbands.  Total cost of trimmings - £4.  The colours haven't really come out as they are - the orchid is more golden, the rose is deep red and the navy chiffon flowers are darker than they appear.  Anyhoo, I shall be wielding my glue gun and sewing needle shortly, so I'll make sure I get some photos of the finished article (however it turns out!)

Have a lovely crafty day!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I love a bargain ....

.... and I'm always on the look out for little trinkets to add to my stash of potential presents.  I found something interesting on a recent shopping trip which caught my eye; they were so colourful I couldn't resist them.

These cockerels were in a dusty bargain bin, reduced to 50p each because the packaging had disintegrated and all the magnets on the backs had fallen off - no problem.  Back home, a quick wash in hot soapy water, clean off the dried glue, then fix new magnets with epoxy glue.  Ta-da!  They are quite big, too, so they will be  an eye-catching addition to any boring old kitchen appliance!

Don't you love the sad looks you get from the shop assistants when you plonk your purchases down at the till - who, in their right mind, would buy four plastic chickens that don't actually do anything?  Hmm, round one to me, I think!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where's the sunshine?

After a couple of days of warm spring sunshine, I decided it was time to make something that's been rattling round in my brain for a while.  Mr Owls and I like to sit outside in the garden whenever the sun is shining, only returning indoors when it gets a bit chilly.  However, after replacing our clay chiminea (after a pet related incident with a lead and an excited dog) with a metal one, the temptation to stay out into the evening with a cosy fire warming our toes is pretty strong!

A bit of ambient lighting in the garden never goes amiss, and I love fairy lights, candles and all things bright to make the outside space seem warm and welcoming.  So - I made these.

They were really quick to make, too!  I got the artwork from a book I bought at an art materials sale at my college:  "Floral Patterns" from The Pepin Press (Agile Rabbit Editions) which has a CD-ROM so you can download the patterns to use on your own projects.

If you want to have a go, here's what you need for each one:

A clean glass jar (I used a coffee jar with the label soaked off - try to peel it off in one piece, to use as a template)
An A4 sheet of tracing paper (for the dahlia jar) or an A4 sheet of printable acetate (for the paisley jar)
Some heat-resistant double sided sticky tape
Scissors or a craft knife, ruler and cutting mat (to save ruining your work surface)
A small church candle or a tealight candle
An inkjet printer
Your chosen design (download one of your favourite photos, or use some free downloadable images - scrapbook sites have some lovely ones)

Measure your peeled-off label - mine was about 675mm long by 74mm high.   This is the size of your wrap-around image.  If you can't get the label off in one piece, don't worry, just wrap a piece of newspaper around your jar, mark the ends, top and bottom of where you want the paper to wrap, and make your template that way.

Get your chosen image on screen, and using software like GIMP or Photoshop, crop and resize your image to fit your label measurements.

Print your image.  I've found that while the acetate paper behaves itself beautifully, the tracing paper likes to curl up as it comes out of my printer, and the ink is still wet in places.  So, carefully take the printed tracing paper out of the printer and lay it flat somewhere to finish drying.

When your printed image is dry, lay it out on your cutting mat and trim it.  Nearly there now!

Place a strip of double-sided tape down one side of your clean, dry glass jar.  You might notice a faint seam in the glass from the manufacturing process - that's a good guideline to keep your tape vertical.  Peel off the backing from the tape, and position one edge of your printed image on the tape.  Now just wrap the tracing paper/acetate slowly around the jar, until the edges meet over the tape.  Press down with your finger.

That's it - you're done!  Put your candle in the jar, light it, stand back and admire your handiwork.  As you can see from the photos, the tracing paper gives a lovely soft glow when your candle is lit; the acetate is more like stained glass.  The jars do get very warm, so best keep them out of the way of small children.

I find it quite difficult to get tealights lit once they are inside their holders, so I make a little holder by cutting a length of firm but bendy wire (sorry, I have no idea about gauge or thickness, trial and error for me!), wrapping one end around a narrow jar or bottle - I used a can of body spray! - to make a circle for the tealight to sit on.  Put the wire inside your jar, and bend the end over the top of the jar so you don't inadvertently stab yourself with the sharp end.  Now you can lower your tealight or candle into the jar without burning yourself, and lift it out easily to replace it when it burns out.

You might have some old drinking glasses that have gone a bit frosty in the dishwasher - you could recycle them by using them for this project, rather than just throwing them away.

I'm also working on a way to cut empty wine bottles to use instead of coffee or jam jars - that's still a work in progress at the moment!

I'd love to see your pictures if you decide to have a go at this project - it's very satisfying, and they do look gorgeous lit up in the garden.